2012 Far North Queensland Architecture Awards

May 29, 2012

The Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors’ Centre and HP Tree House win the top awards at the 2012 AIA Far North Queensland Regional Architecture Awards.

The Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors’ Centre by Charles Wright Architects has been named Building of the Year, receiving the Eddie Oribin Award at the 2012 Australian Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Far North Queensland Architecture Awards.

Charles Wright Architects, Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors' Centre. Photo by Patrick Bingham Hall


Charles Wright Architects’ project, a new public gateway to the city’s Botanic Gardens and the tanks arts centre precinct, offered “a courageous and radical departure from classic crafted and lightweight Queensland visitor centres,” said the jury.

A secluded and sustainable private home, the HP Tree House by mmp Architects, was meanwhile named House of the Year. Raised above the forest floor, the home is designed to have minimum impact on its site – with a material palette of sustainably harvested or plantation grown timber and locally sourced natural stone retaining wall.

HP Tree House, mmp Architects. Photo by Michael Martino


Jurors remarked that the project “cleverly engages its rainforest shroud from every room and interstitial space.,” adding :”Its unassuming exterior belies a sequence of varied scaled interior spaces that embody a relaxed tropical lifestyle in all possible weather conditions.”

Three additional projects received commendations at the regional awards.  Jurors described Architectus’ Cairns City Masterplan as “an aspirational document which seeks largely to return Cairns’ CBD to its status as Australia’s definitive tropical city. It combines an overall cohesive framework within a series of small achievable projects to facilitate realistic implementation.”

Architectus, Cairns City Centre Masterplan. Image by Architectus


Also commended was SKM-S2F’s JCU Queensland Tropical Health Alliance Research Laboratory, a project with “well resolved internal laboratory functions and spaces [which] provide for highly effective research and testing of important biological work for tropical Queensland and beyond.”

JCU Queensland Tropical Health Alliance Research Laboratory, by SKM-S2F. Photo by Richard Glover


Total Project Group Architects’ St Clare’s Catholic School, Tully, Performing Arts Centre, received the third commendation, praised as “an admirable salvaging of an existing facility” that optimises the project’s modest budget.

St Clare's Catholic School, Tully, Performing Arts Centre, by Total Project Group Architects. Photo by Andrew Watson


The Far North Queensland awards were judged by Steve Cahill, architect at Clarke & Prince; Charlotte Doger de Speville, principal at C.D.S. Architects; and Gary Hunt, principal at Hunt Design.

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